New Delhi: Those flying first or business class would now need to queue up with economy passengers for immigration clearance at Delhi airport. The separate immigration counters for such passengers at the departure lounge have been shut from Wednesday.
That means premium flyers would have to report early to factor in the waiting time at serpentine immigration queues.
The move came as the bureau of immigration, which comes under the home ministry, felt there was no need for such a facility when there were long queues at the counters for those flying economy class. Now, these counters would be available as a common pool for all passengers.
“Only diplomats, top officials and crew members will get priority immigration clearance,” said a source.
Senior officials of other big Indian airports say the bureau of immigration may be in favour of doing the same at other places too. But Hyderabad airport does not have separate immigration counters for premium flyers and hopes that the same would be allowed once it expands the terminal. DIAL did not comment on the issue.
“The aviation ministry and Delhi airport management tried to reason that separate counters for premium flyers is a facility that is extended at most big airports globally. It may still take up the issue again,” said a source. But for now, the decision has been taken and airlines are conveying the same to flyers.
London-based Virgin Atlantic told its travel associates: “First and business class priority desks removed from immigration desks from Delhi airport departures… all upper class and CIP (commercially important persons) VIPs will now have to join the regular queue to clear immigration. Please inform your customers to arrive at the airport well in time for their flight so as to avoid long queues at the immigration.”
The aviation ministry had earlier tackled a similar issue successfully when the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security had asked for abolition of separate security check counters at IGI Airport.
The ministry was at that time able to get this stand reversed as BCAS comes under its administrative control. It needs to be seen if it could do it again this time.